Low-carbon transport should be prioritised as a means of improving air quality ahead of tackling domestic biomass burners, says the Renewable Energy Association.
In an effort to reduce emissions in UK homes, the Government's
Clean Air Strategy plans to come down harder on burning wood and coal in open fires and stoves.
According to the document, these heating methods account for 38% of the UK’s primary emissions of fine particulate matter1 (PM2.5), with sulphur emitted by coal burned in open fires.
The Strategy also notes that non-methane volatile organic compounds are found in a range of household products such as carpets, upholstery, cleaning agents, and personal care products.
To tackle air quality issues in the home, it has pledged to:
• prohibit the sale of the most polluting fuels
• ensure that only the cleanest stoves are available for sale by 2022
• make it easier to enforce existing smoke control legislation
• empower local authorities to tackle high pollution areas
• improve awareness of the environmental and public health impacts of domestic burners
• and work with industry to identify an appropriate test standard for new solid fuels.
However, while the REA has welcomed the ambition of the
Clean Air Strategy, it has urged the Government to focus on the uptake of electric vehicles and renewable transport fuels to significantly improve urban air quality.
"Critically, future policies must be based on up-to-date evidence that recognises the role bioenergy has to play in both improving air quality and, at the same time, meeting our carbon reduction targets," says James Court Policy and External Affairs director at the REA.
"For this reason, it remains concerning that Government continue to target biomass heating systems, while urban air quality problems can be best minimised by focusing on encouraging vehicles powered by electricity or renewable fuels."